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Colorado wildfires: Day 5: Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs burns several homes, thousands evacuated

1:41 AM, Jun 27, 2012   |    comments
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Several homes have burned in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. The total number of homes lost is unknown as of Tuesday night.

The fire exploded after winds in excess of 65 mph fanned the flames Tuesday.

Tuesday, fire officials last reported the acreage at 6,200 acres with 5 percent containment.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday night a mandatory evacuation order was issued for The Kissing Camels area, which includes south of Garden of the Gods Road, west of Centennial Blvd., east of 30th Street, north of Fillmore Street and Fontmore Road. This includes the area of the Holland Park neighborhood west of Centennial ONLY. Holland Park east of Centennial is not under an evacuation order at this time.

City of Colorado Springs

Gov. Hickenlooper joined Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach in a news conference Tuesday night.

"I don't think we've ever seen a wildfire like this in the history of Colorado," Hickenlooper said after flying over the 9-square-mile fire late Tuesday.

Governor John Hickenlooper also  issued the following statement earlier Tuesday night:

"An unprecedented weather pattern of hot days and dry conditions has made our fire season among the worst ever. Federal, state and local authorities are working together to address the situation and we are doing everything we can to protect lives and property. If there was an executive order for rain, we'd sign it immediately, but what we can do now is provide support and resources to communities that are most at risk."

Tuesday night, Incident Commander Rich Harvey said the Waldo Canyon Fire is a "firestorm of epic proportions."

Harvey said crews will work through Tuesday night to battle the blaze.

The following are the areas under mandatory evacuation:

  • Cedar Heights
  • Buildings: 213
  • Population: 406
  • Southern Mountain Shadows
  • Buildings: 841
  • Population: 1,875
  • Pine Valley Housing on the Air Force Academy
  • All residents need to evacuate immediately
  • Residents should proceed to the Fort Carson Special Events Center and bring as little baggage as possible.
  • Northern Mountain Shadows and Peregrine (north of Chuck Wagon, west of Centennial to Orchard Valley Road, and northwest of Orchard Valley Road to Woodmen Road)
  • Buildings: 2,565
  • Population: 7,090

  • Rockrimmon and Woodmen Valley, west and north of Woodmen Road and I-25 and west and north of Rockrimmon Blvd and Vindicator Drive. 
  • Pinon Valley and Pine Cliff, west and north of Garden of the Gods Road and I-25 to Centennial north to Ute Valley Park.

  • West of 1-25, North of Gateway Road

  • Douglass Valley Housing on the Air Force Academy.

The city of Colorado Springs has a population of 416,000.

According to Harvey, 800 firefighters are fighting the blaze, as of Tuesday night. He says that number will increase Wednesday morning. Additional aerial resources are also expected Wednesday morning. 

Waldo Canyon Fire updates

Harvey said that an infrared flight will fly over the fire Tuesday night go help get a better idea of where to allocate resources Wednesday morning. 

Tuesday the fire breached primary and secondary containment lines after heavy winds switched directions several times.

More than 100 Colorado Springs police officers are supporting firefighters on the ground.

Officials are asking that everyone stay off cell phones unless it's a life threatening emergency. Phones are getting jammed from overuse.

American Red Cross Colorado chapter

Evacuees urged to go to friends and family who live away from fires to free up space in shelters.

I-25 opened back up Tuesday night. Earlier Sunday the Colorado Department of Transportation had closed the southbound lanes of I-25 at the Parkway exit to facilitate evacuees.

The mandatory evacuation order remains for all of Cedar Heights, Mountain Shadows and Peregrine. Residents are asked to leave the area immediately and may not return home.

Residents are being notified by automated calls and by uniformed police officers advising them of the mandatory evacuation.

The Red Cross Shelter at the Cheyenne Mountain High School is open. Residents can bring small caged pets and companion animals (cats & dogs) with them to the shelter. The Penrose Equestrian Center is sheltering large animals.

On Monday, firefighters attacked the Waldo Canyon Fire from the ground and went on the offensive. Tuesday was a very active day due to high temperatures and wind gusts in excess of 65 mph. The weather conditions may have contributed to the movement.

Some El Paso County residents were allowed to return home Sunday after approximately 11,000 people were evacuated due to the fire. On Sunday afternoon, officials said the fire was burning towards Cedar Heights, Highway 24 and the Cascade area.

"[Monday was] a tough day ... tougher than [Sunday,]" fire information officer Greg Heule said. "Ninety degrees, 25 to 30 mph gusts are predicted. No cloud cover at all. It will be clear skies that will allow the fire to develop those columns and burn more intensely."

Many people are still evacuated due to the fire, as of Tuesday morning. Mountain Shadows residents were forbidden to make a trip home for half-an-hour on Tuesday due to increased fire activity. North Mountain Shadows and Peregrine (north of Chuck Wagon, west of Centennial to Orchard Valley Road, and northwest of Orchard Valley to Woodmen Road) is on mandatory evacuation notice as of Tuesday afternoon. 

As of Monday afternoon, the fire had not crossed Highway 24. Heavy air tankers, single-engine air tankers and helicopters were deployed Monday.

Despite not skipping over the highway, the fire did cross Rampart Range Road and into Queen's Canyon Monday.

Garden of the Gods Park and Garden of the Gods Visitor Center are closed.

Highway 24 is closed west of Colorado Springs. In particular, westbound is closed near the west exit for Manito Springs, and eastbound is closed at the El Paso/Teller County Line near Crystola.

According to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Sunday afternoon the Colorado Springs Police Department closed Cheyenne Canon Park and High Drive. Green Mountain Falls, Chipita Park, and Cascade - on both sides of Hwy 24 - are closed also.

Those needing shelter should report to one of the following Red Cross Shelters:

Lewis Palmer High School at 1300 Higby in Monument.

Cheyenne Mountain High School at 1200 Cresta Road in Colorado Springs.

Southeast YMCA at 2190 Jet Wing Drive in Colorado Springs.

Small animals needing shelter can be taken to the Pikes Peak Humane Society at 610 Abbott Lane in Colorado Springs, or Bear Creek Veterinary Care at 960 Pico Point.

Large animals needing shelter can be taken to the Penrose Equestrian Center, located at 1045 W. Rio Grande Street in Colorado Springs.

The Red Cross is accepting monetary donations for those affected by the fire. Firefighters say they are very grateful that people are trying to help, but they cannot accept food from residents. If you want to support the firefighters, donate to the Red Cross or Goodwill.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The spread of the Waldo Canyon fire has forced the Postal Service to relocate postal operations for affected customers to pick up their mail. The decision impacts approximately 1130 Post Office Boxes and 850 street deliveries.

  • If you live in Green Mountain Falls, CO, 80819, mail pickup will be out of the Woodland Park, Tamarac Station, located at 900 Tamarac Parkway. Hours of service are 9-5. Questions can be directed to 719-686-0240.
  • If you live in Cascade, CO, 80809, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs, West End Retail Unit, located at 204 S 25th St 80904. Hours of service are 830-5:30. Questions can be directed to 719-570-5456.
  • If you live in the Colorado Springs, Cedar Heights area, ZIP 80904, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs West End Retail Unit located at 204 S 25th St 80904. Hours of service are 830-530. Questions can be directed to 719-570-5456.
  • If you live in the Rockrimmon area of West Centennial Blvd, South Chuckwagon Road, North 30th and Flying W Ranch Road Colorado Springs 80919, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs Rockrimmon Station , located at 5001 Centennial Blvd 80919. Hours of service are 730-530. Questions can be directed to 719-266-8216. 


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